Chem-Sharp

by Grey Smith
(Albuquerque, NM)

Hey guys!

I did a search and found very little regarding the product Chem-Sharp, so I thought I would chime in. The one quote I found regarding this product states that it works ok, and mentions the fumes. Well I was worried about the fumes as well, so I looked up the MSDS. First of all the manufacturer claims that the product is biodegradable, non-flammable, and non-toxic. On the MSDS, it shows a .1% (one-tenth of a percent) carcinongenic content, making it probably less toxic than AIR if you live in or near a city, LOL!

So I tried some out. I'll preface by saying that I'm new to TIG welding (only about a year of experience), and most of my experience is in the lab at school. We have a good lab, and I was spoiled, being equipped with a Pirahna tungsten sharpener, various pedestal grinders equipped with diamond wheels, and a couple belt sanders. So I bought a TIG welder, and found myself sharpening my tungsten at 11:30 at night, in my front yard, using a 4-1/2" angle grinder. Well, out of respect for my neighbors, I decided I needed another solution, so I started looking at sharpeners, and was shocked to find that something comparable to the Pirahna would likely cost as much, or more, than my TIG welder itself! So an employee of a local welding supply store suggested I try the Chem-sharp product, and at ~ $8.00 a jar, I gave it a go.

At first I was pretty disappointed, it didn't really seem to work too well, but as it turns out, there is a bit of a learning curve. After using it for about 6 months now, I'm sold. I can make a perfect needle point, everytime, with a beautiful progressive taper, as long or as short as I need it, in about 1/3 of the time it takes with a traditional sharpener.

One disadvantage is that it's a consumable, but at $8 a jar, and a jar being good for 500 dips (according to manufacturer, variable), it would take 24 jars of this stuff to equal the cost of even the least expensive grinder, which will require a $40-100 diamond wheel replacement every 6-12 months. Another issue is the spatter, I generally use a gas lens, and if you don't use enough stick out when dipping (I use about 1.25"), the spatter can eventually clog up the diffuser screens, and does not readily come off. Last, after dipping enough tungsten to consume about half a jar, I did at one point over-heat a tungsten, causing it to split for about 1/2 an inch. This occurded after I had made contact between the electrode and the fill wire, leaving a large ball of filler metal on it, and using the salt to clean it off. In hindsight, it would have been appropriate to grind that metal off of the tungsten before resharpening it.

A tip on use for anyone interested in experimenting with this product:

The instructions say to arc your electrode until it heats up (glows red), dip it into the salt, and repeat as necessary until you get the desired shape. Well, I found that for best results, you should dip your hot electrode into the salt, and leave it there for a couple seconds until a little puddle is formed (salt becomes a liquid), then kinda bob the electrode up and down in the puddle to get your desired shape. You'll notice right away that the chemical reaction caused by dipping the hot electrode into the salt causes it to be continually heated, and apparently even increase in temperature, as long as contact is maintained.

All in all, the product works a lot better than I expected, and I will continue using it because it is quiet, inexpensive, and clean. IMO the last major advantage that a traditional grinder has over the chemical, is perfect repeatability. Other than that, this stuff might be voodoo!

Thanks for reading,
Grey

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Jan 08, 2014
Chem sharp effectiveness NEW
by: John Radtke

Chem sharp is a great tool for sure, I have been using it for over a year in light garage welding with chromoly due to the fact that tungsten grinders are often expensive.

I think I will have that little $8 bottle last me a lifetime, but not because I do not touch the tungsten more than every month or so.

Some may remember from their early TIG classes that you are only supposed to grind tungsten vertically while spinning it for a slight spiraled grind to the tip, and if you have ever ground tungsten sideways to test this you will find that the arc will wonder everywhere and be more difficult to control.

The same is true with chem sharp but with a lesser effect, due to the lack of grinding marks for the arc to travel along and help guide the current, the puddle will be more difficult to control when compared to a grinder.

This is honestly the only downfall of chem sharp I have had, I think chem sharp is an amazing thing to have, however if you have access to a grinder you will make life just a little easier if you are trying to lay down a controlled bead.

I would absolutely recommend chem sharp to any beginning or advanced TIG welder, but you cannot beat the quality of a perfectly ground tungsten.

Hope this helps you guys, and keep burning filler!

Jul 08, 2013
Short, not arc NEW
by: JodynotthatJody

The Chem-Sharp says to short your tungsten till it glows, not arc it. Does this change how much contamination you get on the tip?

Dec 02, 2011
Chem-Sharp NEW
by: Ray Behner

This stuff is made by DYNAFLUX in Georgia. I've used it for maybe 12 years. Can't say much bad about it. I called these folks to ask about the fumes that come out of the jar when you stick the hot tungsten in. The MSDS (when you say that really fast, it sounds like you're speaking Spanish) states that it is pretty harmless. I try not to stick my nose right in the fumes. Boy, I'll tell ya, you can get any length of taper you want, with no striations like grinding imparts. Best to practice at it, before you condemn it. If you can't achieve excellent results, it's not the fault of the product, it's yours. Plus, it's like me.....cheap!

Nov 02, 2011
MSDS
by: Anonymous

I see from the MSDS that the chemical name of this is " Diazotizing salts " . I was looking to find this under its chemical name, hoping it would be even cheaper. Retail companies love to find a chemical like this real cheap, slap a fancy name to it and mark it up 400%.
Anyone have any idea how to get " Diazotizing salts " ? A google search was really useless.

Aug 10, 2011
great product
by: Dean

Glad someone else commented on this product i have been using it for over two years thats when i found out about it and it works great,advantage is no need for grinders,you can leave your tungsten in big time saver,fits in your pocket,you can put on whatever point you want as you can see what your doing.a buddy of mine seen it on the job and had no idea how to use it he has been welding for years so it is not that well known,but it is sure a great product.

I have never,never had a problem with it ,it would be nice to see what other welders think of it and their experience with it.

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